In a lengthy wide-ranging interview with BBC’s “Hardtalk” earlier this week, former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sounded off on a number of issues including his primary loss prior to last year’s midterm elections, the Tea Party and his party’s presidential primary fight.
On his primary loss last year to now-Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), he insisted was a result of Democratic crossover in his district’s open primary.
“There was a situation in Virginia, the state where I’m from, we have something called open primaries,” Cantor explained. “Republicans come into Democrats, Democrats go into Republican primaries. It doesn’t happen very often. In fact, I think most pundits never even believed it would happen. And so what happened in my race is I actually won a majority of Republicans. It was just 23,000 Democrats crossed over and voted in my primary because they didn’t have a primary that day in the Democratic Party.”
“There was never an instance where there was a crossover sabotage vote like that, now the political malfeasance on the part of my political team and I, was we were playing to a primary electorate that was Republican — which we won — it was the Democratic primary voters,” he added. “There’s a lot of misperceptions.”
Cantor lamented the Tea Party and for having “unreasonable” expectations, but he was also down on his party’s presidential front-runner, Donald Trump. When asked by host Stephen Sackur about the rise of Trump, Cantor repeatedly referred to Trump’s support as a “small vocal minority” and insisted that support was not reflective of the Republican Party, nor conservatives.
“There’s a real difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party and I would not say Donald Trump is reflective of the Republican Party, he’s not a conservative,” Cantor said. “A lot of the Tea Party issues out there and the agenda that they are pursuing, they’re more populist radicals than they are conservatives,” Cantor said. “Real conservatives are conservatives who believe in progress through incremental progress and a temperament that is befitting of a conservative, not a revolutionary. And that’s really the foundation upon which the U.S. was built and the Constitution that we have, but I do think as we get closer you’ll see a lot more seriousness on the part of the voters.”
Cantor want on to say that once the dust clears, he still sees former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) as the GOP presidential favorite. Cantor endorsed Bush back in August.
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